Tucked into a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood east of Diamond Head, the Kahala Hotel and Resort is a mere four miles from Waikiki but feels a world away from the popular, bustling resort corridor.
With a range of amenities, including multiple restaurants, a spa, a fitness center and easy beach access, the resort is the perfect place for visitors who want to enjoy the arts, events and action of Honolulu but come back to an easy place to unplug and unwind. Through more than 50 years and multiple owners, the Kahala has maintained a reputation as a place for romance, seclusion and impeccable service, one that was reinforced during a recent stay sponsored by the Oahu Visitors Bureau.
Opened in 1964 next door to the Waialae Country Club, the 364-resort soon became a top spot for the upper crust when visiting Oahu. Numerous U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries and Hollywood stars past and present have stayed at the property. The resort opened under the Hilton name and has also been part of the Mandarin Oriental family. It is currently owned by Japan-based Resorttrust. The rooms maintain a traditional island charm with luxury touches, like spacious, well-appointed bathrooms.
Kahala sits on a sandy, quiet strip of beach with a small platform anchored not too far off the shore that attracts lazy sunbathers. Waikiki is an easy drive away, or guests can use the resort's shuttle service. The neighborhood is quiet enough for a relaxing walk, bike ride or job, and the trails and views of Diamond Head are a short distance away.
Hoku's, the signature restaurant, recently introduced new chef de cuisine Eric Oto, an Oahu native who previously worked at Halekulani and Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Oto revamped the menu, which was relaunched in August, focusing on inviting fare that features Japanese, Filipino, Thai and Vietnamese influences.
Breakfast at Plumeria Beach House was a varied, bountiful and delicious feast, with acai bowls, tropical juices, omelets and fluffy, sugar-coated malasadas, a Portuguese-style donut popular in the Aloha State. Other dining options include the Italian restaurant Arancino and the Veranda, a lounge overlooking the beach with small bites and a late-night menu.
Kahala is home to a wing of Dolphin Quest, a dolphin experience and conservation program founded by two marine mammal veterinarians that first started at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii Island and also includes a branch in Bermuda.
Dolphin Quest staff are constantly on hand and readily answer questions and talk to interested guests about the program. The ocean water facility consists of multiple lagoons which are home to six dolphins and several other marine species. The facility also raises green sea turtles past their vulnerable infancy before releasing them into the ocean. The U.S., outside of certain exceptions, prohibits the capture of marine mammals. Dolphin Quest uses dolphins from its multiple locations for a controlled breeding program.
There are several programs available to interact and swim with the dolphins, including immersive trainer for a day and trainer for a week options.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort (rates starting at $357 per night) also boasts a fitness center with views of the ocean, banquet and meeting facilities, kids club, free bike rentals and activities like snorkeling and a sailing tour.